Set in Montreal, Tres Belle Journee tells the story of Jeremie (Guillaume Laurin), a bike courier who delivers anonymous packages and disappears into the night. Living alone in his apartment, Jeremie generally keeps to himself. However, when a social media celebrity moves in across the way, Jeremie?s world is upended and his ?very nice day? continues to get worse.
Directed by Patrice Laliberte, Tres Belle Journee is a fascinating piece that feels more like an exercise than it does I have a narrative. The first Quebec feature film shot entirely on iPhone, Journee maintains a more fluid style with its storytelling. There is an ebb and flow to this film it makes it feel improvisational at times. Whereas this approach doesn?t always work in narrative filmmaking, Journee somehow manages to hold itself together with almost lyrical movement between scenes. As such, there?s an openness to the film that allows its creative team to push the boundaries of their storytelling.
While the film follows Jeremie?s travels, what takes place over the course of his journey is less important than the questions that he asks along the way. With earnestness and honesty, Lalibertie takes the opportunity to explore the banality of everyday life. For example, as he bikes from delivery point to delivery point, Jeremie reflects on the nature of reality and our role within it. Reflections regarding simulation theory lean into the idea that reality is a construct as we simply play the part that we have been programmed to do. Whether it?s his own importance held up against the celebrity of his neighbour or simply the meaninglessness of reality, Journeegives voice to a generation that?s simply trying to figure out the point of it all. (In fact, Journee almost feels like a cinematic representation of the Scriptural passage that suggests that ?everything is meaningless?.)
While the film is far from hopeless, it certainly believes that perhaps we are missing out on some key component of life. Jeremie?s role as delivery man seems to be one that passes on adventures to other people, not himself. Travelling from client to client, he is barely recognized by those he disappears from their imagination the moment that he leaves their sight. To them, he means little. A means to an end for those obsessed with their own lives. In this way, there is a certain level of emptiness to his life of loneliness and isolation. (In fact, it?s worth noting that this sense of isolation becomes more poignant when one considers the effect of the pandemic on our relationships. As we psychologically recover from the trauma of imposed isolation, so too have become more self-reflective of what it means to live in community with one another.)
While the film will not be for everyone due to its quieter tone and slower pacing, there is enough under the surface of Tres Belle Journee that makes it worth the time. This is a film that wants to explore the meaning of life through the eyes of one seemingly unimportant man in the midst of a world fueled by the self-importance of others. Although Journee doesn?t land on any definitive statement on these issues, the beauty of this film is that it?s more about asking questions than answering them.
Tres Belle Journee is available in theatres now.